01/25/2011 11:34AM

Golden Gate stablemates to clash in Sunshine Millions

Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
Antares World is one of two Steve Specht trainees running in the Sunshine Millions Distaff.

Trainer Steve Specht hauled Antares World and Lady Railrider to Santa Anita on Monday to run in Saturday’s Sunshine Millions Distaff, a $300,000 race at 1 1/16 miles. Both wound up preparations for the race last Thursday with one-mile drills at Golden Gate. The 4-year-old Antares World covered the mile in 1:44.20 and the 6-year-old Lady Railrider in 1:44.60.

Both are owned and were bred by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams, and they have met once, with Antares World defeating Lady Railrider by 1 1/4 lengths in a Golden Gate turf race last September. Frank Alvarado, who regularly rides both, will ride Antares World on Saturday, with Russell Baze piloting Lady Railrider.

Specht cautions not to assume Antares World will get the best of her stablemate again on Saturday.

“I think they’re pretty evenly matched,” he said. “Antares World beat Lady Railrider, but Lady Railrider had missed some time with some foot problems that cropped up at Del Mar.”

Excessive Passion is another Golden Gate-based horse running in the Sunshine Millions at Santa Anita. Trainer Jeff Bonde is sending Excessive Passion in the $200,000 Sprint at six furlongs. It will be his first start since last May 15 when he was fourth in the Alcatraz on the turf. A 4-year-old Vronsky colt, Excessive Passion is 3 for 4 sprinting, with stakes wins in the Everett Nevin at Pleasanton and the Harry Henson on the turf at Hollywood Park.

He wound up preparations with a half-mile drill in 45 seconds at Santa Anita on Sunday, the best of 72 works at the distance.

Excessive Passion drew post 5 in the eight-horse field, and Bonde said, “With his works, he’s ready, but he’s gotta beat Cost of Freedom.”

Cost of Freedom has won three straight stakes, including the California Cup Sprint and Grade 3 Vernon Underwood.

Golden Gate Fields will have a special 12:15 p.m. first post Saturday.

The works didn’t lie

The Specht-trained Gig Harbor won his debut here on Sunday. The City Zip colt beat Unbridled Endeavor by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:10.20 for six furlongs.

Specht said the performance was not surprise to him, nor was it to the bettors, who made Gig Harbor the 2.70-1 favorite.

“There wasn’t anything hidden,” said Specht. “The works spoke for themselves.”

Gig Harbor came into the race showing a 1:12.80 six-furlong bullet on Jan. 9 and a 59.80 five-furlong work on Jan. 2. Specht said the colt had worked in the fog under Frank Alvarado on Jan. 17, but no one picked him up, including Specht himself.

“Frank said it felt like a 59,” Specht said.

Specht said that Gig Harbor is a smart horse whose stride reminds him of McCann’s Mojave, who won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for him. He added the colt has shown in works that he can go as slow or as fast as he’s asked early.

◗ Ranger Heartley defeated Shudacudawudya in the 2010 California Derby. On Friday at Golden Gate, he scored his second victory since then and first since he was claimed for $62,500 at Del Mar last Aug. 1. The victory came in a $5,000 claimer.